Bowden_na_1709_55_thuThe first homesteaders to the Bowden area arrived between 1875 and 1880.  Prior to 1885, settlers who had moved to the Bowden district were primarily ranchers. After 1885, the settlers focused on mixed farming. Crops were produced such as hay, oats, wheat and barley.  In 1891, the Edmonton-Calgary branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed to Bowden. With the arrival of the railroad came a large influx of settlers who began planning business establishments and secured property close to the railroad. 
Bowden_na_3648_10_thuThe earliest businesses included a general store, creamery and a blacksmith shop. Although, there were problems between the railway company and the landowners. The railway failed to reach an agreement with the landowners on the purchase price of the property. It was then decided to locate the new townsite 11/2 miles north of the existing site on property owned by the railroad. This change in location forced all of the business establishments to move to the new site.


Bowden_nc_4_28_thuIn the early 1900s, the settlers' main source of income was from hay and dairy products such as cream. By 1906, the local output of butter was the second largest in the province. The first church in the district was of Anglican faith and built in 1893. It was followed by the Presbyterian church built two miles west of the townsite. In 1904, Bowden was incorporated as a village. The first hotel was built and the following year a four-room brick schoolhouse was completed.

Over a period of years, fire plagued the growth of the village, destroying the business section in 1906, the general store in 1923, between 70 and 80 buildings in 1925 and the creamery in 1935. Sadly, in 1954 a propane gas explosion destroyed the first building which had been built in the village.

Bowden_na_3976_20_thuIn 1959, construction began on a $4-million refinery by Canadian Oil Companies Limited. With the completion of the plant, the economy of the village and district had greatly improved and a building boom occurred. In 1960, a natural gas processing plant was constructed, creating employment for many people.


WWII and After

Bowden_na_3976_18_thuBowden was in the centre of a prosperous mixed farming area. Farm income was primarily from cattle and grain. The trend in that area then began to shift towards more livestock, especially cattle. Farm mechanization in the Bowden area was about average for the province except that the farmer's progress was above average. With the opening and establishment of the Canadian Oil Company's refinery and the sulphur extracting plant, 35 additional families moved into Bowden.


Present-Day Bowden - "Gateway to the Parkland"

Bowden is located in the County of Red Deer, in the Central Alberta parkland region. The area consists of agricultural cropland with rolling foothills of the prominent Rocky Mountains. Bowden has been steadily experiencing growth over the years. The town also takes pride in the cleanliness and aesthetics of its community. The Bowden area also features many recreational amenities such as a nine-hole golf course, fairgrounds and rodeo facilities.

The town of Bowden has a economy based on manufacturing, agriculture, natural gas and oil service and supply. Local industries include gas plants, a refinery, nurseries and greenhouses, trailer manufacturing, agricultural control panels, silos and equipment. Bowden is also home to a federal prison and the Bowden Pioneer Museum which features a variety of artifacts from the early pioneer days.